India antitrust ruling could cause “irreparable” harm and reputational loss: Google

Vastavam web: Alphabet Inc’s Google has said an Indian antitrust ruling that found it was guilty of search bias could cause “irreparable” harm and reputational loss to the company, according to a legal document reviewed.The Competition Commission of India (CCI) in February fined Google $20 million for abusing its position in online web search and also slammed the company for preventing its partners from using competing search services.The order, the company said, “requires Google to change the way it conducts business in India on a lasting basis and the way it designs its search results page in India”, according to a copy of its plea which was seen exclusively by Reuters.

The CCI, among other things, had ordered Google to stop imposing restrictions on its direct search agreements with other publishers.Google last month obtained a partial stay on the ruling from India’s company law tribunal, which allowed it to deposit only a small part of the imposed penalty.The Indian antitrust tussle is the latest regulatory setback for Google. Last year, the European Commission slapped a record $2.8 billion fine on the company for demoting rival offerings. Google has appealed against the order.On the issue of search agreements, the CCI in its Feb. 8 order said: “By restricting websites from partnering with competing search services, Google was denying its competitors access to the search business and further marginalizing competitors.”

The “volume of business generated through these agreements is substantial” for Google, the order said.In its plea challenging the ruling, Google said the CCI wrongly ruled that such agreements violate Indian competition law.